A playlet for possible presentation and discussion at Diocesan and Deanery Synods
as well as PPC’s and Parish Groups.
Following a meeting of a Diocesan Missionary Council held on the 22nd of June 1989.
Written by Brenda Eveleigh. 29th of June 1989.
All characters are fictitious
AIM: To alert Synod and all Church Members of the real cost when a mission society provides a speaker.
‘Matters Arising’ Cast. Several characters including the Chairman/Vicar, Jean, Tom, Fred, Vera, Olive [plus others].
SCENE: A meeting of the PCC of a local church. Prayers have been said, Apologies have been recorded, Minutes have been approved. As the play opens, the Chairman is speaking to Item 4 on the agenda.
CHAIRMAN: Right - now to Item 4 on the agenda, ‘Matters Arising’. I'd like to mention first, the visit we had from Joy Fullalove of the Mkana Mission Society – a Society we've supported for some long time now. You may remember, Joy spoke most movingly about the plight of black people in South Africa and how she saw for herself the effect of apartheid in action. The things she told us about different individuals and specific families whom she had met and actually worked with, helped us to think of real people instead of just a situation. In naming names, she presented us with a Christian brother or sister. For me, personally, it was a most valuable visit and a number of people, of the few that attended the meeting, have told me how she had opened their eyes to reality. Is it your wish that the secretary sends a letter from this council expressing our thanks?
JEAN: Oh! Yes, Vicar. I would like to propose that we do that and I'd like to add my own comments to yours. I can tell you she moved me to tears especially when she told us about the practice of giving a bottle of wine every day to the poor workers in the South African vineyards, instead of a decent wage. I was ashamed as she spoke - ashamed to be white- when it was white people treating other human beings like that – keeping them in a euphoric state of mind, so they don't realize how poor and illiterate they are. Workers from the age of 14, she said. I thought of my 13-year-old son here in England and I thank God for his freedom and opportunities-and I asked God to forgive us and show us how best I can help... It's awful! [sits down, obviously emotional. Takes out hanky..]
Someone pats Jean’s arm, others shuffle and shift uncomfortably.
VARIOUS VOICES: ‘I agree...’ ‘I'll second that... ‘It might not be as bad as it sounds’… ‘What about a donation as well, Vicar’... I don't know! Start that with one and you know what will happen! Etc etc…’
TOM: I'll second what she said, Mr. Chairman, but I'd like us to send a cheque with the letter. Let's send £500 towards expenses and something for the missionary society’, work as well we can afford it- we made over £1000 at the auction and car boot sale in April, didn't we?
JEAN: Oh! Yes, let's!
CHAIRMAN: Wait a minute-that's a proposal and an amendment all in one, Tom! Is there any further debate before we think about voting?
Silence... Eventually broken by….
FRED: Well, Vicar, I don't want to be awkward, but someone's got to stand up for us. We're not all that well off, and Joy Fullalove did say that she wanted to come. I was brought up old fashioned, with right values you might say. My dad always said ‘Charity begins at home’. We could do with a bit more in a deposit account, don't forget we've got the quinquennial inspection coming around in a couple of years and we don't know what we'll need ourselves.
One or two nod and whisper in agreement, Fred huffs and puffs, shuffles a bit and looks to the others for approval. Encouraged he adds...
FRED: (continues) It's time we started thinking about ourselves and saving for a rainy day. That's best, like when the old vicar was here... Uh… no offense, Mr. Chairman! But we've got to think of number one...
VERA: That's right. ‘Cause if we don't, well then we can't help anyone else can we? I mean-it's like at home, you've got to pay your hire purchase off and keep up your insurance policies- but people still come knocking at the door with envelopes for money for charities- as well as our treasurer here, telling us that we should be covenanting and giving a percentage of our income to church. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed what Joy said and just by inviting her, well it showed we were interested, and supported their work, didn't it... Anyway, they get plenty of grants and things I'm sure- even from the government I shouldn't wonder.
Sits back, obviously pleased with herself. Exchanges glances with Fred.
Silence... Broken by olive...
OLIVE: I think I know what Vera and Fred are saying, but I agree with Tom and Jean as well. Can't we compromise? What if we work out what it cost for us to have Joy, then round it up to the nearest £10 ?
Several voices. ‘Oh! Yes…’ ‘Good idea…’ ‘Yes, that would sort it out…’ ‘I think I'd go along with that…’ ‘Well, it would show we’re willing…’ etc etc
Chairman: Thank you, Olive, as usual you have put your finger on a very important point. Where shall we begin?
FRED Well, I don't want to be seen to be mean, so I'll start. What if we check the mileage that she did and workout how much petrol she used, throw in a couple of quid and we could all be satisfied. I'd be prepared to go along with that.
VERA: Yes, me as well... I'd accept that.
TOM: That's all well and good, but if we're hearing what all we've said- really hearing what she said- we've got to take into consideration things like nearly two days salary as well tax and National Insurance for the afternoon and evening meetings she addressed.
JEAN: And if you add the time it took to prepare the talks, it might even be three days. And don't forget she'd had to make a couple of phone calls before she came to check on details and there's the letters she wrote as well- and don't forget the postage…!
VERA: Oh! Well... Go on like that and you'll be wanting us to contribute to her lighting and heating and typewriter and stationery next... You could go on and on... What about office rent, not to mention the meal she had on her way here and back.. And all the literature and the posters she brought....
CHAIRMAN: I see no one else wanting to say anything... Perhaps we should take a vote. JEAN, what exactly was your proposal?
JEAN: Well, Vicar, including what Tom said, I'd like to propose that we send a letter of thanks to Joy Fullalove, assuring her and the Society of our prayers and enclosing a cheque for £500.
TOM: I'll second that.
CHAIRMAN: All those in favour?... (Three hands go up.)
All those against?... (No hands go up.)
Any abstentions?... (All others put up their hands.)
CHAIRMAN: (Shrugs his shoulders, sighs and raises his hands in frustration and disappointment).
CHAIRMAN: (with a heavy voice) The only other item under ‘Matters Arising’ is, ‘Who left the tap on in the vestry’?
Written in 1989. It’s now 2022. Have attitudes changed?